Penrith Panthers NYC v Canberra Raiders NYC
Kick-off: 4.45pm Monday
The Penrith Panthers NYC side take on Canberra Raiders looking to keep their hopes of a minor premiership alive against a team clinging onto finals aspirations.
Coach Cameron Ciraldo is able to recall young stars Corey Harawira, Oliver Clark and James Fisher-Harris to his side after they impressed in NSW Cup. Jarome Luai also returns and will partner Nathan Cleary in the halves. Soni Luke is named at hooker following his return from injury and will skipper the side along with fullback Brent Naden.
The Panthers suffered their first defeat in eight games last weekend against St George Illawara Dragons and will be looking to make amends. The loss cost them their spot at the top of the ladder, with North Queensland Cowboys enjoying a competition record winning streak.
Fisher-Harris and Clarke will line up alongside Moses Leota and Corey Waddell in an imposing forward pack, with the versatile Tyrone May adding his ball-playing ability from lock. With Thompson Tuigamala, Cowen Epere and Paea Pua coming on from the bench, the Panthers will be a handful for the Raiders defence with their size and strength.
On top of a strong forward pack, the Panthers boast an equally formidable back line. Naden and Harawira return from their stint in NSW Cup, and will line up alongside Maliko Filino and Christian Crichton who have both turned out for the NSW Cup team this season.
They come up against a Raiders outfit that is teetering on the edge of the top eight. The Raiders currently have the worst defensive record in the Holden Cup this season, as well as the worst offence of any team in the top eight.
Already facing an uphill task of toppling a red-hot Panthers side, they will also be without top try scorer Brenko Lee who has been named in their first grade side. The likes of Cameron Booth and Thomas Cronan will need to step up in Lee’s absence and add to their tallies of 11 and 10 tries respectively.
The bad news doesn’t end there for the Raiders. The last time these two teams met was just a month ago when the Panthers ran out comprehensive 64-8 winners at Pepper Stadium, when Penrith scored 11 tries through ten separate tryscorers.
The Raiders come into the match off the back of some poor form having lost four of their past five matches, conceding 262 points along the way.
Despite going down to the Dragons, the Panthers had won seven straight prior to last Thursday’s loss and will be looking to get back on track as they battle it out with North Queensland Cowboys for the minor premiership.